Tune in the New Year with these Party Favorites

The one-two punch known as the Holiday Season is only half finished; Christmas is simply the warmup for the biggest blowout of the year. For a successful New Year's party, the only ingredient more essential than a well-stocked liquor cabinet is an ample supple of party tunes. (Recommended accessory: a reliable CD changer. It's hard to play host and DJ at the same time.)

As guests are arriving, try setting the mood with Cocktails for Two/Romance with a Twist (Rykodisc D 116667), a compilation of classic lounge music by masters of the genre: Arthur Lyman, Gloria Lynne, the Stardust Steel Band, and others. Adult, sophisticated, a trifle dated, but definitely upbeat. A piquant irony may be had by blending in a bit of The Best of Liberace (MCA MCAD-4060). Yes, gone but not forgotten, The Coiffed One plays schmaltz as no one else ever has. Choice cuts: "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing," "Tammy," and an over-the-top "Over the Rainbow."

You can boost the celebratory spirit with a shuffle-mix of the following: The Best of Louis Jordan (MCA MCAD-4079), The Commitments, Vol. 1 (MCA MCAD-10286), the Kit McClure Band's Some Like it Hot (Redhot RH 9001), Louis Prima (Capitol Collectors Series CDP 7 94072 2), and The B-52's (Warner Bros. W2 3355). Jordan and Prima will provide your gathering with energy aplenty. McClure's mostly-instrumental big-band sails along with a relentless rythym, too. Dublin group The Commitments offer a twist on the soul theme while remaining true to its essence. And though some folks may think R.E.M. is the best thing that ever emerged from the town of Athens, Georgia, my vote goes to the B-52's, without question the greatest party band ever. "Rock Lobster" and "Lava" are assured dance hits.

Hours later. Jordan's and Prima's antics have begun to wear thin, and you need a little change of pace. Try slipping in some Al Green (Motown 6111 MD). Rev. Al's "Let's Stay Together" is still in the top ten of all-time great love songs. Mood-equivalent alternative: Marvin Gaye's What's Going On (Motown 31453-0022-2). You can't miss with the title cut, "Mercy Mercy Me," or "Inner City Blues."

Or, want to kick it up? Try Tori Amos' "The Happy Worker," from the Toys soundtrack (Geffen GEFD-24505), followed by a mélange of more B-52's---"Roam" and "Love Shack" from Cosmic Thing (Reprise 25854-2)---with Surf Party! The Best of the Surfaris Live (GNP/Crescendo GNPD 2239), The Ventures' Super Hits (Evergreen 2690142)---especially "Walk, Don't Run" and "Hawaii Five-O." For a little unexpected variety, work in two very different takes on the musical West Side Story: sax virtuoso Richie Cole's improvisations (Music Masters Jazz 01612-65165-2) and the various-artists tribute album The Songs of West Side Story (RCA 62707-2), wherein All 4 One do an astonishing "Something's Coming." Selena does likewise with "A Boy Like That," to an infectious tejana beat. Little Richard takes the comic honors with his send-up of "I Feel Pretty."

No party would be complete without a little disco, and who more appropriate than Donna Summer? Her hits "I Feel Love," "Bad Girls," and "Hot Stuff" are there for the dancing on On the Radio (Casablanca P2 22558). And if nothing else works, the Rolling Stones are guaranteed to get even the most cast-iron hindquarters shaking. Both "Brown Sugar" and "Live With Me" will do the job. Available everywhere on earth.

Winding down: Nothing could be better than Ike Quebec's Ballads (Blue Note CDP 8 56590 2). These slow sax meanderings offer delightful texture set against David Grisman/Jerry Garcia (Acoustic Disc ACD-2), a collaboration between two very mellow fellows.

I raise my virtual glass in a toast to all readers: All the best for your New Year's bash.
Q: Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
A: If they don't love music, YES! Today, tomorrow, and always.

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